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US Housing Market Improving, Recovery Taking Hold


While the recovery of the labor market is well below its potential, the housing market is poised to overcome.

Here we go again. The political ping-pong in Washington has once again impeded any resolution leading to certainty regarding fiscal policy, and therefore continues to limit the potential of the labor market recovery. As a result, household formation rates remain below potential and continue to act as a drag on the nascent housing recovery and consumer spending. However, despite the leadership deficit and its economic consequences, there is no denying it -- a long-term expansion in housing is taking hold.

First and foremost, even at current, below-trend household formation rates, the inventory of vacant housing units will be reduced to pre-crisis levels over the next three years even if housing starts continue to grow at double-digit rates (source: US Trust Capital Market Outlook December 3, 2012). See the chart below.

(Sources: US Trust Capital Market Outlook 12.03.2012 – Census Bureau; Bureau of Economic Analysis/Haver Analytics)

The increase in the sales absorption to new construction ratio is evident in that completed new homes only spend an average of 5.9 months (source: US Trust Housing Focus July 2012) on the market. This metric should continue to become more favorable as years of below-trend investment in residential real estate (see chart below) have led to considerable pent up demand. We could see this demand come into the market much more quickly, if only our leaders in Washington would help raise the cloud of policy uncertainty and allow hiring to pick up.

(Sources: US Trust Housing Lift Off July 2012 – Bureau of Economic Analysis/Haver Analytics/US Trust Estimates 2012-2013)
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